Commercial beekeepers and environmental organizations in California submitted a petition requesting EPA to revoke the registration of clothianidin, a neonicotinoid insecticide used in cotton for control of thrips, aphids, cutworms, plant bugs, stink bugs and white flies.
Beekeepers and some researchers claim that neonicotinoids are lethal to bees. Some studies indicate that at non-lethal doses, these chemicals may weaken their immune systems, making them more susceptible to pathogens and, thus, contribute to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). First recognized in 2006, CCD has destroyed colonies at a rate of about 30 percent a year, double the loss rate prior to 2006, according to the USDA.
The petitioners, which include Beyond Pesticides, the Pesticide Action Network and the Center for Food Safety, state that EPA failed to find that clothianidin does not have any unreasonable adverse effects on honey bees and other insect pollinators and that it failed to consult with the Fish & Wildlife Service as required under the Endangered Species Act.
EPA evaluated clothianidin based on 34 scientific studies and concluded that the chemical poses less risk to workers and wildlife than alternatives. While data show clothianidin is toxic to honeybees, the agency says there's no proven link to CCD from exposure to the pesticide.
The neonicotinoids are currently in the Reregistration Review process under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide & Rodenticide Act, which requires EPA to reassess all pesticide registrations every 15 years.